‘Firefly Lane’ Characters: Tully Hart, Kate Mularkey, And Johnny Ryan, Explained


“Firefly Lane” is all about friendship and the complexities that come along with it. Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart’s friendship is one rollercoaster ride, their love for each other is admirable, but at the same time, there is often a hint of underlying jealousy. But they somehow managed to maintain their three-decade-long friendship. Kate was the calm to Tully’s stormy personality, while Tully brought fun and excitement into Kate’s life. They were the perfect pair, but a mistake made by Tully led to their fallout in “Firefly Lane” Season 2, Part 1. While how Tully and Kate will reunite remains unknown, let us take a closer look into their characters and the major events in their lives that affected them. 

Spoilers Ahead

Tully Hurt: What Did Tully Do To Deal With Her Loneliness?

Donning blue eyeshadow and a sassy attitude, Tully Hart was one of the most famous girls in school. There was a sense of maturity in Tully because of all that she had to see and go through. Her grandmother was the only parent she knew as a child, and later, during her teenage years, she met her mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud. As a little girl, she had only seen her mother once. It was the day she came to take Tully with her, but halfway through the journey, she decided to join a peace march. Tully could not keep up with the crowd and lost sight of her mother. She was frightened by the possibility of being left alone in the middle of nowhere. Later, she was returned to her grandmother’s place by the police. Therefore, the only memory she had of her mother was an unpleasant one. When Cloud returned once again to take her along with her, she was a teenager. She did not wish to leave her grandmother’s house and shift to a new place at her mother’s whim, but she barely had any choice. Her mother’s house was on Firefly Lane, a place that would eventually mean the world to her.

With the absence of a father figure and a mother who was lost in her world, Tully had no one to guide her through her teenage years. She simply wanted to grow up and be taken seriously by the rest of the world. When a school senior, Pat, invited her to a party, she readily accepted. The idea of being surrounded by people perhaps excited her. But the party turned out to be her worst nightmare. She consumed alcohol for the first time, and Pat took advantage of the situation. He forced himself on her and later accused her of being obsessed with him. The absence of a respectable father figure and the sexual assault resulted in Tully’s lack of trust in men. Initially, Tully found it difficult to confront Pat, but later she gathered the courage and walked up to the girl he was dating and disclosed what he had done to her. Not only did she save another girl, but she also forced Pat to confront the fact that he had raped her. She later made out with Kate’s brother, Sean, because she could only trust him, and she knew that he expected nothing out of her. He, too, was struggling with his sexual identity and needed someone he could trust to get intimate with.

When Kate and her pictures in the swimming pool were pasted all around the school, the school principal tried to shame them. But Tully was vocal about how unjust his judgment was and that he must punish the boy who had taken their pictures without their consent. Kate tried to apologize on behalf of Tully to avoid suspension. While for Tully fighting the wrong was her priority but for Kate, living a normal life without much attention mattered the most. But eventually, under Tully’s influence, Kate too learned the importance of taking a stand. Tully grew up to be a journalist, and she only cared about reporting the news that mattered. She refused to be the submissive woman that society wanted her to be in the 1980s. She was brutal and sharp with her words, and there was no way that she would soften her tone just to please the crowd. When she learned how negatively the audience was reacting to the presence of a woman anchor, she modified her delivery but continued to keep her edge as always. She showed her bravery when she was shot in the arms by a robber at a supermarket, but she continued to report.

Tully had grown up believing that her professional success would bring her happiness, but the older she got, the more she realized that life was more than achievements. She had it all, yet she was lonely. She reconnected with her mother and uncovered the identity of her father, but nothing made her feel satisfied. Only Cloud could understand the loneliness Tully suffered from. When Kate distanced herself from Tully after the car accident, she ventured out to find who she was beyond the television show host, Tully Hurt. She fixed the broken walls of the old house, and it was a cathartic experience for her. She made a home out of the house she once dreaded living in. It was almost as if she had learned to accept her past and build something out of the broken pieces.

Kate Mularkey: Why Was Kate Jealous Of Tully?

Kate was a shy introvert who enjoyed reading more than making conversation. Her parents adored her, and she had a pretty happy childhood. During his teenage years, Sean, her brother, distanced himself from her owing to his sexual identity. When Kate saw Tully, she assumed that she was just another popular kid who would ignore her as the rest did. But when she helped Tully sneak out cigarettes from a store, Tully knew that behind Kate’s innocent face, there was a mischievous teen. Kate grew closer to Tully after the Pat incident. She felt protective about Tully, and she knew that she was more than just a popular kid and that her life was far from perfect. Kate was proud of the fact that she was now Tully Hurt’s best friend. While the rest of the school thought her to be a nerd, Tully recognized the fun-loving Kate.

When Kate discovered that her mother was having an affair, she was completely shocked, and Tully provided her with the support that she needed. From getting high on weed together to helping Tully deal with her mother, Kate was the perfect best friend. But at times, she could not help but feel that she was playing a supporting role in her own life. Her brother was closer to Tully than he was to her. Her parents were more interested in Tully’s life than hers. Men showed interest in Tully before taking a look at her. Even her first kiss was with someone Tully had rejected before. She had made Tully such a crucial part of her life that she did not know who she was as an individual. Therefore, she had days when she would choose to stay away and figure out who she was, but, in the end, life was always more fun and adventurous with Tully.

Kate had always enjoyed the audio-visual medium, and she had a knack for writing as well. Joining a media company as a writer seemed like the most obvious choice for Kate, and the fact that Tully wanted to become a television host made it all the more perfect. She was introduced to Johnny Ryan during her interview at KPOC. She could not keep her eyes off him, even though she soon realized that he might be interested in Tully. Tully, on the other hand, was not looking for love. She might have flirted with Johnny and enjoyed his company, but she was never in love with him. When Johnny returned from El Salvador and confessed his feelings for Kate, she was ecstatic. She had been waiting for his affection, and he finally admitted that she was the one he was meant to be with. Though he said it while he was drunk. The next morning, he had forgotten about it and later went on to make out with Tully. This left Kate devastated, and she discussed with Tully what Johnny had admitted to her. After realizing that Kate continues to have feelings for him even after getting into a relationship with Mutt, Tully chooses to stay away from him.

Even though Johnny might have been interested in Tully initially, he soon realized that she was not the person he had romantic affection for. After Johnny and Kate’s confrontation and spending their time together as friends, they knew that they were meant to be. Kate struggled to get over the fact that Johnny was initially interested in Tully. She never wanted to be someone people settled for just because they could not get the person they wanted. Being Tully’s best friend was never easy for Kate. Tully would always be the center of attention and was immensely loved by those around her. Kate loved Tully, but there were moments when she could not help but feel envious of her life. Her insecurities would often cloud her mind, and she would wonder if Johnny ever loved her as much as she did.

After her fallout with Tully, she mentioned that Tully only wanted her in her life because she could not stand to be alone. This further confirms how insignificant Kate believed she was. Even if we for a minute consider that she really thought that Tully wanted her by her side so she would not feel alone, it only leaves us wondering why Kate was with Tully in the first place. Tully showed her the other side of life and love—things that she never dared to do but enjoyed watching her best friend indulge in. Therefore, without Tully, Kate’s life lacked the spark and mischief that she enjoyed. But just like any relationship, a break can often be useful. Kate enrolled herself in a creative writing program, and she tried to reconnect with her lost passion. She learned to face her insecurities, realized her worth, and accepted that the people around her truly loved and cared for her. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she reached out to Tully. After all, no one understood her as her best friend did.

Johnny Ryan: Why Did Johnny Propose to Kate a Second Time?

Johnny Ryan got caught up in the world of Kate and Tully while working as a producer at KPOC. He was a passionate journalist who was determined to deliver news stories that would leave an impact. His experience in El Salvador had affected him deeply, and it also revealed to him what truly mattered in his life. While staying away from his crew, he realized that he was attracted to Kate Mularkey and that she was his last thought when he could sense a gun on his forehead. While Tully’s mysteriousness had caught his attention, and he wanted to solve the puzzle that she was, eventually, it was Kate’s simplicity and honesty that he fell in love with.

Even though he was not ready to get married and have children, the thought of losing Kate changed his mind. His preconceived notions meant nothing if he could not spend his life with the person he loved. After twenty years of their marriage, Johnny wanted to follow his passion, so he decided to head to Iraq. He had played it safe all along because he had a family to take care of, but he wanted to become the Johnny who once dreamed of bringing change through journalism. His sudden decision affected his marriage, and they decided to get a divorce. His love for Kate never died, and even though they got divorced, they knew that it was not over yet. After surviving an explosion, Johnny suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. With the support of his family, he decided to get his life together. He moved to a different apartment and consulted a therapist. Staying away from Kate made him further realize how deeply he valued her presence in his life. He eventually confessed his feelings for her, and they decided to get back together.

Johnny was patient in dealing with Kate’s insecurity about him and their relationship. He constantly reminded her that he loved her as much as she loved him, and he had never felt otherwise. After his stay in Iraq, he was able to contribute as a journalist, and at the same time, he strived to find a balance between work and family. He proposed to Kate once again, and while she initially thought that a second marriage was a ridiculous idea, she could not say no to Johnny’s heartfelt proposal. Johnny had been a part of Kate and Tully’s world for twenty years, and he had learned to accept their very demanding friendship. While having their baby, he often felt overwhelmed by Tully’s presence, but he knew how important she was to his wife and accepted her constant interference. We can expect Johnny to be an immense support during Kate’s cancer treatment. Kate’s condition might completely break him down, but he will surely prove to be the ideal husband and a loving father till the very end.

See More: ‘Firefly Lane’ Season 2, Part 1: Ending, Explained – What Caused The Distance Between Kate And Tully?

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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